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Tips From A Peterborough, ON  Vet: Teaching Your Kitten Good Manners

February 1, 2024

Have you recently adopted a kitten? Congratulations! Kittens are loads of fun and always adorable. They can also be a handful. Little Fluffy is basically a tiny, meowing bundle of curiosity, boldness, and energy, which makes for a charming but dangerous mix. Getting a kitten isn’t just about giggling at your little buddy’s antics, though. This stage of your pet’s life is crucial to her development; not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. It’s important to teach your furry friend good manners now. A local Peterborough, ON vet offers some tips on how to do that in this article.

Why Is My Kitten Biting And Scratching Me?

Little Fluffy is going to be very, very interested in mastering the use of all of those claws and teeth. This is fun for her, of course, but the instinct goes far deeper than a simple desire for entertainment. Cats are both predators and prey by nature. They basically come pre-programmed with both hunting instincts and a desire to explore and find safe spaces. (Many scientists are starting to suspect that Fluffy is actually the purrfect predator, but that’s another topic.) 

In other words, you can pretty much expect your tiny ball of fur to practice her murder skills on you.

Avoid playing with your cat using your hands or feet. That’s just teaching her that it’s fine to use you as a cat toy! It’s important to play with your kitten, but ideally you want to use toys that you control from a distance. Some good options are laser pointers, string toys, remote controlled toys, and even balls that you can roll towards her.

How Do I Help My Kitten Feel Safe?

The biggest thing is to always handle your kitty with a loving and gentle touch. Talking to little Fluffy can go a long way towards helping her feel safe. This is also great for bonding! It doesn’t matter what you say: just use a friendly tone of voice.

Cats crave affection, and many just love cuddling up with their humans. In fact, this is good for you both! Simply letting your pet curl up on you for a nap will help. This should be good for you both! When you snuggle up with your feline friend, a special hormone, oxytocin, also known as the Cuddle Hormone, is released in both of you. This reinforces feelings of being loved and safe.

Make sure that your pet only forms positive associations with you. The big thing here? Never force attention on a kitten. Always let her decide when snuggle time stops and ends. If you try to force your furry pal to submit to being petted or held when she doesn’t want to, you’ll end up doing more harm than good! Little Fluffy can be quite rambunctious, but she can also get frightened easily. Never force attention on her, and don’t hold her if she wants to get down.

How Do I Teach My Kitten Good Manners?

Like human toddlers, kittens need to learn what is and is not appropriate. It may be cute when your pet bites or scratches you, or pounces on your shoelaces, but this is not going to be cute behavior in an adult cat.  

Even if your pet does something naughty, such as biting or scratching, you’re better off to gently rebuke her and then guide her towards more appropriate behavior.

If your feline pal bites or scratches, immediately reproach her verbally. Don’t yell at her: just use a stern, disapproving tone. You can say ‘No’ or ‘Play nice’ or ‘Don’t bite’ or ‘Put Your Claws Away.’ The big thing is to just be sure that you are using the same words or phrases every time.

Then, walk away and ignore your tiny pal for a while. She may look insulted and affronted, and perhaps a bit confused, but you may also see those little wheels turning. Sooner or later, your tiny pet will figure it out!

No luck? The next step is to incorporate something that will annoy your furry friend without hurting or really scaring her. You can squirt her with water or blow in her face. Loud noises also work well for this. Clap your hands, sound an alarm on your phone, or rattle a jar of change.

How Can I Tell If My Kitten Is Happy?

Little Fluffy’s health will have a huge impact on her mental and emotional health. She won’t be happy if she feels sick, uncomfortable, or hurt. 

Start with proper care: good food, clean litter, fresh water, and proper veterinary care are the basics. Your tiny friend will need to go to the vet a few times this year: microchipping, spay/neuter surgery, vaccines, and parasite control are all on the agenda. If your pet’s doctor gives you the thumbs up after examining her, you’re doing great! 

Little Fluffy also needs toys, beds, and at least one or two things to climb or explore. Ask your vet for tips on this.

Feline behavior and body language can also tell you a lot. If your kitten is feeling cheerful and safe, she’ll probably be quite playful. And while some kitties are braver than others, she may be quite bold and curious. (This is one reason petproofing is so important.) If your pet feels safe enough to sprawl out on the floor, it’s a good sign. Happy cats also often seek attention from their humans. Your adorable little buddy may follow you around, hop into your lap, and meow back at you when you talk to her.

 Can You Raise A Kitten To Be Cuddly?

To be fair, cats all have their own purrsonalities. Some are furry little cuddle bugs, while others are more aloof. While breed does play a role here, the way little Fluffy is raised also makes a huge difference.

Kittens are very small and fragile. They really crave feeling loved, safe, and cared for. In fact, our feline pals think of us as second parents. (Fluffy also thinks of us as her cook, maid, and butler, but that’s besides the point.)

Spend lots of quality time with your little buddy. If she wants to snuggle on your lap or in your arms, by all means indulge her. Stroke your kitten gently as she is relaxing. Chances are, she’ll start her motor right up!

Why Does My Kitten Knead Me?

This is a cute, if slightly painful, way of expressing affection. Kittens knead while nursing, as it stimulates milk flow. They also tend to purr while nursing. In fact, cats may have started purring as a way for mamas and babies to communicate. Kittens can’t meow while they’re eating, but that soothing rumble lets their momma and littermates know they are content. (Cats also purr to soothe themselves, but that’s another topic.)

If little Fluffy is making biscuits, it’s a sign that she sees you as a parent. If  those little claws are hurting, just grab a pillow,blanket, or even a sweater before settling down.

Do you have questions about kitten care? Contact us, your local Peterborough, ON veterinary clinic, today. We are always here to help!